sweet tomato relish

I’m thrilled to share this recipe with you. Unfortunately I can’t give credit where credit is due as I don’t know the lady who passed it on to me.

Seven years ago I started this baking and bottling adventure selling my wares at a roadside stall near Weka Weka. One hot Sunday, under the shade of my market umbrella (the local rainforest), a virtual stranger kindly shared her family’s best country preserve recipes. A terrific Mango Chutney and this wonderful Sweet Tomato Relish were two of them. They are still the simplest and best relish recipes I’ve come across. Bottle some soon - before the last of the peak summer tomatoes finish. This batch will delight you right through Winter.

sweet tomato relish

Ingredients - 1.5KG (3lb) Ripe Tomatoes ❤ ¼ cup salt ❤ 500gram (1lb) Onions ❤ Water ❤ 2 cups Brown Malt Vinegar ❤ 2 cups Brown Sugar ❤ 1 tablespoon Curry Powder ❤ 2 teaspoons Dry Mustard Powder ❤ ¼ cup Cornflour ❤ ¼ cup Brown Vinegar (extra)  ❤ ½ teaspoon each of ground Nutmeg, Pepper, Cinnamon & Ginger

Method + Top Tips - Score the tops of tomatoes with a sharp knife to help loosen skins. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water. Allow to cool a little and remove skins. If you prefer your relish chunky with skins on, then don’t worry about this process. 

Thick slice tomatoes into a large plastic bowl. Peel & chop onions into small slices and add to the bowl of tomatoes. Cover with water, sprinkle with salt, mix through lightly and cover bowl. Stand overnight. 

The next day, drain all the liquid from the tomatoes and onions. Place in a large saucepan with the brown malt vinegar added. Bring to the boil uncovered.   Add brown sugar & stir over low heat until sugar has fully dissolved.

Meanwhile, combine curry powder, mustard & cornflour, gradually adding extra vinegar to mix until smooth & lump free. Remove pan from heat & add cornflour/mustard mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Return pan to heat and stir until mixture comes to the boil.  Leave uncovered to cook for 35-40 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Add spices five minutes before the end of cooking & mix in well. 

Stir frequently during cooking and pour into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately. Makes approximately 1½ litres (6 cups). Recipe can easily be doubled if you have a big jam pot.

Other tips: Sterilise jars in your dishwasher on its hottest setting to save time. Always use a large stainless steel, heavy based preserving pan. Never try to make relish or jam in a pot that’s too small.  Lightly butter the preserving pan before starting. Use a long handled wooden spoon for stirring.

During a hot Aussie Summer wait for a cooler than usual evening, a thunderstorm or the odd rainy day!  Preserving should be a labour of love that’s fun - don’t even think about turning on the cooktop during the peak of a Summers day.  The fun quickly expires. Have a good stainless steel jug for pouring out relish. Have your clean lids ready for immediate sealing. Use your largest, hottest gas burner for effective, speedy setting of relish and jams.

Seasonal Jotting

We grow a small quantity of tomatoes at the farm. Growing your own is so satisfying - however don’t you also love the produce of an experienced, specialist farmer. One who ignites passion for their crop - so much so that you can clearly see, hear and taste it. 

Like many of us in well populated areas on the East Coast of Australia, I’m spoilt here for choice when it comes to weekend Farmers Markets. Our closest are at Palm Beach , Mudgeeraba and Miami Organic Growers Market. Over the border in nearby Northern NSW the choice gets even bigger.

We seem more than happy to pay a bit extra for genuine farm produce - Lockyer Valley tomatoes and potatoes, Bayside berries, local herbs and greens, Stanthorpe apples and pears ...all the seasonal pickings.  Because we can tell at first sight this produce has a local farm story behind it. Not an import carton.

Just one example is Peter Sutton and his wife Carmel of Suttons Tomatoes. They make the ordinary tomato extraordinary and visit several farmers markets around SEQ. They grow heritage tomatoes in the Lockyer Valley near Gatton. Peter used to be a dairy farmer and grape grower.  Now they grow several types of old tomato on the grape trellises. Their tomatoes come in all shapes, colours, sizes and flavours - ranging from green to yellow, pink, purple and even black.

I often buy a colourful mixed punnet and reserve these special beauties for a salad, bruschetta, margherita pizza or seafood pasta dish with lashings of local garlic & freshly picked parsley.

In the height of the season, I use the bigger toms (most often the Roma variety) to make double batches of the tomato relish above. This way we’ve got enough relish to use with cold meats, sausage rolls, chicken pie, burgers, frittata and any dish calling for a pretty side of preserved relish. With plenty left to give away.